John Mahoney, the veteran actor best known for his role as Martin Crane in the TV comedy series Frasier, has died in the US at the age of 77.

Mahoney's publicist, Paul Martino, told US trade publication The Hollywood Reporter that Mahoney passed away on Sunday in his adopted hometown of Chicago after a brief hospitalisation.

John Mahoney with his Frasier co-stars (L-R) - Peri Gilpin, Kelsey Grammer, Moose the Dog, David Hyde Pierce and Jane Leeves

Paying tribute, his Frasier co-star Kelsey Grammer wrote: "He was my father. I loved him."

Born into an Irish family in Blackpool, Lancashire, Mahoney emigrated to the US as a teenager to join his sister.

He worked as an English teacher and as the editor of a medical magazine before deciding to pursue a career as a professional actor in his late thirties.

He became a mainstay of the Steppenwolf Theatre Company in Chicago, winning a Tony Award in 1986 for his performance in John Guare's The House of Blue Leaves.

Mahoney also took to the stage at the Galway International Arts Festival in a number of productions including Eugene O'Neill's Long Day's Journey Into Night and Bruce Graham's The Outgoing Tide.

On the big screen, his film credits included Tin Men, Suspect, Moonstruck, Eight Men Out, Say AnythingBarton Fink and The Hudsucker Proxy.

On television, his credits included Hot in Cleveland, In Treatment, ER and Cheers

But it is for his role as loveable curmudgeon Martin Crane in Frasier that he will be best remembered.

With the cast of Frasier at the Emmy Awards in Los Angeles in 1998

Mahoney played the role of Frasier (Kelsey Grammer) and Niles (David Hyde Pierce) Crane's father from 1993 to 2004 and was nominated for two Emmy and two Golden Globe awards for his work on the show.

He shared the Screen Actors' Guild award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series with his Frasier co-stars in 2000.

Paying tribute, the Mayor of Chicago, Rahm Emanuel, said Mahoney's "work and impact will endure for generations".

Mahoney's Say Anything co-star, John Cusack, said he was a "great actor" and "lovely kind human".

Speaking on Morning Ireland, Paul Fahy, Artistic Director with the Galway International Arts Festival, said: "He was such a lovely, sweet man. 

"He adored Chicago - it had become his hometown - but he had been coming to Galway since 2001 when he first came to the festival, playing James Tyrone in Long Day's Journey Into Night... He loved Galway City and he loved Connemara. He often came back privately for holidays, especially in the wintertime."  

Here are some more of the tributes: